I can watch Band of Brothers over and over again, but it’s nice to see Hollywood returning to the genre of World War 2. It would take untold lifetimes to explore every story.

Mel Gibson is back behind the camera in what promises to be a remarkable movie. I’m a sucker for anything historical. Yes, we all know Mel Gibson’s issues in Hollywood. This isn’t the site to rehash and convict him on his transgressions. It’s about what upcoming movies grab your attention. And Hacksaw Ridge does that.

The YouTube comments are already lighting up about the casting of British and Australian actors in the film. I don’t have a problem with it. Case in point? Damien Lewis as Richard Winters in Band of Brothers. You had to Google the guy to figure out he’s English.

Lionsgate gives a brief synopsis of the film as the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss [Andrew Garfield] who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an Army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Hacksaw Ridge and Desmond Doss

That’s only a brief description of the heroism displayed by Desmond Doss. Reading the Medal of Honor Citation and it’s hard to know if a single movie can do his story justice:

He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet [120 m] high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards [180 m] forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards [7.3 m] of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet [7.6 m] from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards [91 m] to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude, he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards [270 m] over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

One man amidst one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific theater. He was the first of only three conscientious objectors to receive the Medal of Honor. Thomas W. Bennett was the second serving as a medic in the Vietnam War. Joseph Guy LaPointe was the third, also serving as medic in the Vietnam War.

The Stuffed You Missed in History Class has a special episode devoted to Doss, and his heroism displayed during the Battle of Okinawa.

Hacksaw Ridge hits theaters on November 4.

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